I went to my first large, organized signing this past weekend and I wanted to take a few seconds, or minutes, or hours, depending on how long I ramble on to talk about my experience with you all. I figure that it might help another author who's never done one, or it may reassure others that you can do it. I don't know. I'm in a moment of why not? And it's just a little insight into my experience!
It all began without sleep. I hate large groups and being around strangers, especially in large groups. It just freaks me out. Maybe I'm a weirdo or awkward, but the idea of being in a large room with hundreds of people I don't know leaves me with sweaty palms and a rapid beating heart. Even thinking about it now has my body responding. So, the night before I didn't sleep. I finally fell asleep around 4 am and woke up at 6. We were at a hotel and I didn't want to wake my husband, so I decided to go for a walk downstairs in the lobby and check out the venue.
On my walk, I went to the conference room. I like to scope out areas, check out what it looks like ahead of time, find some exits, weird stuff like that. So I walked around, saw the vacant room, and felt a bit better. I couldn't just stand around so I got a coffee and started to relax. I always have coffee in the morning so it felt a little bit like home and natural. There's a whole process to handling the anxiety that deserves a blog post all in itself.
Fast forward a bit to the event stuff now...
Let me start by saying that my facebook family seriously freaking rocks. This was my first big signing and I had no idea what to bring, what it would be like, or what I needed to be prepared. And if you know me, you know I'm a bit OCD... I need to have things organized otherwise my mind runs and I can't sit still, and I like being early. So not knowing what to expect was hard on my mentality.
I saw pictures from other author's tables and other signings and saw their setup and how they did their tables. My first order of business was the banner. The amazing Cassy Roop from Pink Ink Designs designed this one for me (it's in the pictures below) and I have to admit, I got a ton of compliments at the event and maybe even name-dropped a few times. It's stunning, the colors pop, and it tells readers exactly who I am. My logo is pretty recognizable after you see it a few times.
It was actually a week or two before the event when another author told me about the raffle baskets and having something for readers to enter when they come to your table. I had no idea! I went into a bit of a panic mode, but luckily some awesome new swag of mine came in and my mom had a cute basket so I put together a raffle basket (complete with a little wine) and ran to Party Depot to get some raffle tickets. (Okay, so I sent my husband and he may have gotten admit one tickets instead of raffle tickets, but we rolled with the punches and it worked out well!) It was a huge hit! Inside the basket I had a logo tee, a pack of cards, a keychain, wine, a cloth bookmark, and a three-pack of chapstick inside to encourage readers to enter!
As for the books, I made up a number. My pre-orders went well so I decided to bring 10 of each book that's a first in the series and then 5 of each second and thirds. It actually worked out great! I almost sold out of A Reliant Love AND The Thousand Year Curse. I would definitely pick those numbers again. I think it's a good navigation point for others to feed off of.
Thank goodness I had my husband with me, because those dang boxes of books are heavy! Not only did I have a ton of paperbacks, but I had really cute bags for those who purchased. Plus all my swag, my basket, my chap-sticks, and my banner. It was a lot to lug inside, but my husband was a trooper and helped me out while I got to set up.
Let me preface by saying, it's okay to wing it. I had no idea what to put where, but I love having an organized area so I just set everything out to look nice. I wanted to showcase the first books in my series and the more adult novels since I figured most of the readers attending would like that. It seemed to work, although I think if I had all my books out it may have attracted other people. I don't know for sure. Just an idea. So while I liked having 4 showcased novels on my table, it may have worked against me.
My advice for setting up would be to make sure it's easy for readers to collect swag, and also make sure you have enough room to bag and sign books without knocking things over or it being a hassle. Ease is the keyword here. You don't want to rush readers and you don't want it to seem like you're rushing yourself either.
At eleven am, the doors to the ballroom opened and everyone came in! My stomach was in my throat and my fingers were clammy and wanting to break free of my body, but I sat down and tried to be calm. My biggest fear of it all was what if nobody comes to my table, what if I sit here alone the entire time, or what if I sell a bunch of books and they're not any good. I obviously know that it's all irrational. If the worst thing in my life is that nobody comes and says hi, am I really that bad off? Of course not. But these were the thoughts in my head.
Amazingly so, Samantha, a member of my street team was one of the first in the door and she came straight for my table. Meeting her was one of the things in the entire event that I was looking forward to. We've talked online and she's helped me so much and I really enjoy talking to her. So seeing Samantha right off the bat actually calmed me down. My biggest fear of nobody coming to my table was already broken because she was there. It was like I could breathe again.
After she went off to other tables, more readers came in and I chatted until my throat was sore (while eating all my candy, I might add). A young woman, probably around my age, came by about an hour into the event and starting talking to me about her genre preferences and how much fun the event was so far. We just talked. She saw the cover of TTYC and picked it up off my table. She read the back and then placed it back down. I asked a couple questions, like if she liked paranormal and Greek mythology, the normal questions, and then she asked if she could buy the book.
I kind of looked at my husband and was like, wait someone I don't know wants the book? It hit me in a weird way. Like the back cover, the blurb, and front cover sold her enough. She didn't look at reviews. She had no idea who I was or what other books I wrote. She just picked up my book, much like you may in a bookstore, and then wanted to get it. I can't even explain the feeling because it was so foreign to me, but it really touched me. I felt like in that moment, I had made it. I succeed in some way. Like I said, I don't even know how to explain my feelings. It was just like a breath, a sigh of contentment.
After that I relaxed. I sold way more books then I imagined I would. Here I was thinking that I was going to head home with the same books I had just lugged there and no...I went home with light boxes and way less goodies! I felt comfortable towards the end of the event, and for me, an anxiety ridden homebody, it was welcome for once! I actually enjoyed it. I love talking to people, especially about books and things I'm passionate about. The signing was an outlet to be myself, to share myself with others who have similar interests, and I would totally do it again.
What I'd Change
Advice To The Next Signer
Be yourself. I know it sounds so crappy, but throughout all steps of the signing process, if you are yourself then you will succeed. Every single person on the planet can sniff out a phoney. If you're being fake to a reader or focusing on selling your books alone and not making connections, you're going to have a crap time and people will see through it. I'm not even kidding. It's just a bad look. Plus, you rock. You're a damn author. You're pretty dang cool.
DO NOT go into a signing thinking you're going to make money. You're not. I don't care how many books you sell at your discounted price, it's not going to even out or tip you into making a profit. And you shouldn't be focusing on that anyway. You're attending for the publicity and chance to meet readers and other authors. It's a networking time and a time to show your readers that you care. You're not there to make money. Though, sure, it'd be nice.
Freebies are the way to a reader's heart. Whether it be bookmarks, a raffle, a giveaway, candy, or something else, do something to give back. I love my chapsticks, but I also brought bottlecaps and buttons and a raffle that was free for everyone who came by and said hi. It's a way to say thanks back and to give them a chance to win! Who wouldn't take you up on that.
© Taylor Lavati 2017
What Readers Have to Say...
"An absolutely heart wrenching read that shows us that at times no matter how much we hope, darkness will find its way to win. "
-Blogger's From Down Under for A Reliant Love
"So this book is the ultimate love story. I like how two ordinary people who is so different and still so alike in so many ways can overcome everything together."
-Angelica Berglund for For The Love of Hockey
"I never thought I would read a "zombie book", much less love one. The Last Legacy really surprised me. Even with the whole people-eating-people thing, it was a fantastic book"
-Melannie S for The Last Legacy
"I could not wait to start book two. If this book was as good as book one, then I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. It wasn't as good as book one...it was better. "
-Keely Retchloff for Finding Sam
"The powers, the love, the excitement, the drama kept me so enthralled. If you are looking for a GREAT series about true love and mythology, look no further... I wish I could rate 10 stars! Definitely recommend this whole series to all my book loving friends!"
-The Book Blog for A Curse Books Trilogy
"For the Love of Ash" by Taylor Lavati was a rare 5-star read for me. I honestly find many typical romances rather dull and predictable. This was not the case at all here; there was nothing average about the romance, overall storyline, and the long list of supporting characters."
-Summer's Book Blog for For The Love of Ash
"Wingless isn't what I would normally pick up and read, but thought I'd try it out and I am so glad I did. The characters and "worlds" she creates are done so well that you can actually picture them and feel like you are there right along with the characters."
-JLH for Wingless
For The Love of Hockey | January 2016
The Price of Love | 2017